ALBANY — The head of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce said Tuesday that the organization is working to eradicate poverty, develop the local workforce and is poised to take on future challenges by engaging Albany’s youth.
Speaking to the Dougherty Rotary Club Tuesday, Catherine Glover said that the Chamber is on the forefront of what amounts to a socio-economic reform effort that addresses issues from the flight of educated youth from the institutions of higher education to chronic and systemic poverty.
“What we’re trying to do is take a comprehensive look at the challenges that face this city and region and tackle those in the most direct way possible,” Glover said.
Glover touted the Emerge Albany group, which has enlisted the help of 408 volunteers under the age of 40 to brainstorm on ways to better the community. The group encourages philanthropy and community service and is providing networking opportunities.
Strive2Thrive is the chamber’s anti-poverty initiative.
So far, the program has worked involved more than 100 family members and achieved quantifiable results, Glover said.
Those results include 71 percent average increase in the monthly income of the participants in the program; 42 percent increase in assets by the participants since joining the program and 21 percent reduction in the participants who are on public assistance.
The chamber is also in the formative stages of developing a plan to pitch Albany as a retirement destination.
Glover said retirees are a great market for communities because they use less government services, but still pay property taxes and sales taxes. Many have disposable incomes and become volunteers in the community.
The Chamber is also launching online procurement tools to allow its members to use the Chamber database of member businesses to fill requests for proposals and keep dollars at home.
Using the tool, local businesses spend their money with other local businesses rather than using someone out of the region, Glover said.